The White House is saying an invasion of Ukraine is “imminent,” but Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday he’s not convinced that Russian President Vladimir Putin will launch the attacks and that the White House keeps “pushing back” against bipartisan sanctions being presented by Congress.
“I’m convinced we could do more in Congress and should,” the South Carolina Republican told ABC’s “This Week.” “We’re been working in a bipartisan fashion for about three weeks now to come up with pre-invasion and post-invasion sanctions and the White House keeps pushing back. So the best thing that could happen is for us to pass the sanctions package.”
Such sanctions could include “a waiver” if they come before an invasion, but after an invasion, they’d come in measures that would “cripple” the Russian economy, said Graham.
“We should be doing more in Congress,” the senator said, adding that he’s surprised the negotiations on sanctions have been stalled.
There are already votes in the Senate in favor of sanctions, Graham added, but the problem is with secondary punitive measures.
“It’s not enough to sanction a Russian bank,” the senator said. “You want to sanction anybody that does business with the banks. We have to convince them we’ll destroy this as a cash cow for Putin and need a robust set of sanctions regarding the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications) program so Putin would understand the relationship with the United States would be forever changed.”
Graham also said he hopes Putin understands that President Joe Biden is not the last president of the United States, and if there is an invasion, he would “destroy the U.S.-Russia relationship for decades. Every president in the near term would be put in a box when it comes to dealing with Russia.”
The White House has released information that Russia may stage a “false flag” operation about Ukraine, but Graham said he doesn’t know if that has been effective in pushing Putin back.
“I don’t want to ring an alarm bell as much as to take action,” said Graham. “They’re telling us the invasion is imminent. They’re not telling Putin with clarity what happens if you invade. He should be punished now.”
Putin has amassed 100,000 troops on the Ukraine border, he continued, but is “paying no price at all.”
“What I can’t get over is that the world is allowing him to do all this without consequence,” said Graham. “We’re talking too much and doing too little.”
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